What’s the meaning of ‘Cioè’ in Italian?

Cioè is one of those words that Italians frequently throw-in during a conversation. In English, cioè can take different translations, depending on the context. In any case, no matter the context, cioè is used to provide or give additional information about something previously stated. 

These examples will help you understand how to use cioè in a conversation.

Cioè = like what? / for example?

When cioè is used in a question, it means “like what?” or “for example?.” It often appears as the only word in the question. It’s used to ask someone to be more precise or provide additional information to clarify something. 

Person AMi sveglio sempre prestissimo al mattinoI always wake up very early
Person BCioè?Like what?
Person ACioè alle seiLike at 6
Person AMartina è una poliglotta, parla un sacco di lingueMartina is a polyglot, she speaks a bunch of languages
Person BCioè?Like what?
Person ANe parla almeno seiLike six, at the very least

Cioè = that is to say / I mean

When cioè is used in a statement, it’s used to specify, correct or rephrase something that was previously mentioned.

Sono veramente arrabbiata, cioè infuriataI’m very mad, I mean, furious
Ci vediamo alle 3… cioè alle 4, mi sono confusaLet’s meet at 3… I mean at 4, I got confused
È stata una giornata lunghissima, cioè, abbiamo lavorato 14 ore!It was such a long day, I mean, we worked 14 hours

The difference between “ciò” and “cioè” in Italian 

Cioè is often confused with the pronoun ciò, which has a totally different meaning (and pronunciation).

Ciò is a pronoun, often used instead of quello che (what), especially in formal and written Italian. The function of the pronoun here is to replace the previously mentioned idea or fact. Both quello che (informal) and ciò che (formal) means “that thing”, so they are synonyms.

These examples will help you understand how ciò is used and its meaning. 

Examples with ‘ciò’

Ciò che mi fa arrabbiare è cheQuello che mi fa arrabbiare è cheWhat drives me crazy is that…
Questo non è ciò che ti avevo detto di fareQuesto non è quello che ti avevo detto di fareThis is not what I told you to do
Ciò che voglio dirti…Quello che voglio dirti…What I want to tell you


Other related articles 

About the Author

Serena Capilli

I’m the creative force behind both this blog and my collection of short stories in simple Italian for language learners, available on Amazon.

Learn Italian
the smart way!

Sign up and receive the best exercises that have already helped my private clients to finally speak italiano + weekly doses of Italian!

Ciao, I'm Serena!

I’m the creative force behind both this blog and my collection of short stories in simple Italian for language learners, available on Amazon.

7 Romance Short Stories for Italian Language Learners